Skip to main content

Full text of "Historical Sketch of The New Age (Buffalo, NY - 1922)"

See other formats


Historical Sketch of The New Age, 

Founded, June 1912: 

10 Years of Struggle for the 

Emancipation of the Masses 

by Robert Wark 

Formerly Organizer of Socialist Party 
Published in The New Age [Buffalo], vol. 11, whole no. 516 (July 13, 1922), pp. 1, 10. 



As we pause on the threshold of our eleventh year, after having 
passed successfully through ten hard years of struggle, it is fitting that 
we should review the trials and tribula- 
tions through which we have passed in 
attaining such remarkable success. 

The New Age has always been an in- 
spired paper. The Buffalo Socialist, a pio- 
neer newspaper whose interests were de- 
voted to spreading the doctrines of So- 
cialism, was an inspired paper. Without 
an inspiration this paper would never 
have lived through the difficulties that 
beset us. Without the big idea ever ahead 
of us we never could have braved defeat 
after defeat only to achieve VICTORY 
AT LAST. 

To those who devoted their time and efforts in the early days we 
are especially indebted. Those loyal comrades whose broad vision 
made possible this paper are indeed to be congratulated. 

The first issue of the Buffalo Socialist, as our paper was then 
called, appeared June 6th, 1912, and if you will refer to your files you 
will see the names of those who were farsighted enough to pledge 
themselves to the successful operation of such an enterprise. The Buf- 
falo Socialist Publishing Company was organized with the following 




officers: president, Martin B. Heisler; treasurer, Frank Ehrenfried; 
secretary and editor, Henry Tutthill; business manager, Stephen J. 
Mahoney 

It is to Stephen J. Mahoney that we owe a never ending debt. 
Steve was the first business manager of Buffalo's Socialist paper. It was 
he who first attempted to secure advertising for our paper. It was he 
who had to overcome the hardest obstacles. 

And through the efforts of Stephen J. Mahoney we have reached 
the point where we are now celebrating our Anniversary of Triumph. 
But where is Steve Mahoney? Steve, who was beloved by all, has 
passed away 1 Steve gave his life so that you and I and all the rest 
might have a Socialist paper; that we might enjoy a few of the liber- 
ties that every man is entitled to. 

As our new enterprise progressed it became evident that we wold 
need more than the small amount of money secured from subscribers 
and advertisers to carry on this great work. What should we do? 
Where could we go for money? No one seemed to know. Then, as 
from out of the sky, came the good news. The Woman's Club of Local 
Buffalo, Socialist Party, would hold a fair to raise money for the Buf- 
falo Socialist. Was it a success? Ask anyone who was there. It was the 
successful beginning of a series of annual fairs that contributed so 
much to the income and enabled us to tide over those lean years. 

Such women as Mrs. Martha Klein, Mrs. Charles Ball, Sr., Mrs. 
Theresa Colburn, Mrs. Henry Tutthill, Mrs. Dora B. Foster, Mrs. 
Leonard Perry, Mrs. Malloy, Mrs. Tom Pholman, Mrs. Henry Ban- 
gert, Mrs. Frank Hill, Mrs. A. Conn, and Mrs. Ed Simons and many 
other loyal comrades were the bulwarks of our paper at that time. 

Much credit is also due to the first Board of Directors of the Buf- 
falo Socialist Publishing Company for their untiring efforts in behalf 
of the paper. 

During the National Lyceum Lecture Courses that were held dur- 
ing the winter months of those first years the Buffalo Socialist was a 
wonderful help in keeping folks posted on what was going on. 

The year of 1 9 1 3 saw the young people of Buffalo more and more 
anxious to do something for the Socialist movement and with the 
help of the Buffalo Socialist and the local organization of the Socialist 
Party a Young People's Socialist League was formed. 

The part played by the Socialist paper in the first street car strike 
of Buffalo will long be remembered. It was at the Fred D. Warren 



Stephen J. Mahoney died in February 1920. 

2 



meeting on April 5th, 1913, that the strike was announced and on 
Sunday, April 6th, 1913, not a car was running in this great city of 
Buffalo. 

At that time Frank Cattell was business manager of the Buffalo 
Socialist and it is well known by all that it was due to the efforts of 
Cattell and the local comrades that William B. Fitzgerald of the 
Amalgamated was able to effect an organization in the city of Buffalo. 
Four daily papers were issued by the Buffalo Socialist during the street 
car strike and the public was kept informed at all times of the truth in 
the matter. 

Following hot upon the street car strike was the big mass meeting 
held by the department store clerks of Buffalo. The Buffalo Socialist 
had exposed the inhuman treatment accorded these workers and they 
had determined to call a meeting. The meeting was a huge success. 
The strike of the department store clerks was a fact. May 1st to 10th 
[1913] the strike continued and the Buffalo Socialist issued a daily 
paper every day during that time. The machinists' and teamsters' 
strikes were also called at that time and the Buffalo Socialist loyally 
supported those protests against intolerable conditions and low 
wages. 

It was in August 1913 that two tired, dusty men with a covered 
wagon and a team of horses pulled up in front of Socialist headquar- 
ters. To look at them, and forget the surroundings, would have 
brought you back to the olden days when men traveled by caravan — 
and a caravan it was. Herbst and Edward Lindgren of New York City 
were en route from coast to coast and stopped off at Buffalo to cheer 
us up and be cheered themselves. What a time we gave them. Rousing 
meetings every night. We gave them a chance to rest themselves and 
their animals and start on their journey fresh and filled with new en- 
thusiasm. 

About this time the Buffalo Socialist devoted a great deal of space 
to showing up the fake charitable institutions of Buffalo. The Husted 
mill disaster relief fund was but one of these affairs where the workers 
were duped into giving money to local newspapers. Where the money 
went was never known, but it is a fact that a careful checking up of all 
money spent for charity among the sufferers proved that someone in 
connection with the fund was not spending the money for purposes 
that it was intended. Our attention was then called to the rottenness 
that existed in the Central Labor Council of Buffalo. Coleman and 
his gang of leeches were bleeding the workers to death. Time after 



time the organized workers had their cause lost by this man's doubtful 
leadership and tactics and his greedy henchmen. They were labor fa- 
kirs in every sense of the word. But their days were numbered. The 
Buffalo Socialist started after them. We put up a good fight and the 
charter was withdrawn by the American Federation of Labor and a 
new council was organized with clean, honest workers as officials. 

Hand in hand with these victories came the determination of the 
capitalists that free speech would not be allowed in Buffalo. Local So- 
cialists were equally as determined that free speech should live. The 
crisis was on Friday October 3rd [1913]. The free speech fight of our 
dreams became a fact. The mounted cops were called out and the pa- 
trol wagons backed up at Lafayette Square. Old-time Russia in Amer- 
ica was a reality. The despotism of the Tsar was no worse than the at- 
tempted tyranny of the Buffalo capitalists and their henchmen, the 
chief of police and the mayor. Our comrades were determined that 
they would go to jail rather than submit to the will of tyrants, and go 
to jail they did.... 2 

But listen! What do we hear? It is the beat of drums and the mu- 
sic of bands. The war is on us. The wars that we dreamed could never 
come had finally enveloped us in their midst. What were we going to 
do? We knew. We were determined. We remained loyal Socialists and 
kept up the publication of our weekly paper. We flayed the war lords 
throughout the year of 1914 but to no avail. The war was on us. 

In June 1914 we were fortunate in securing the services of Max 
Sherover as editor and business manager and at his suggestion decided 
to change the name of the paper to The New Age. In February 1915 
the name was changed and has remained to this day. 

It was at this time that the business management of the Buffalo 
Socialist was turned over to Ernest C. Bautz. Ernest was a product of 
the Young People's Socialist League and until he left Buffalo was very 
successful as business manager of our paper. 

Back in the days when gasoline sold for fifteen cents a gallon (yes, 
it did) we were fighting for woman suffrage and our paper was in- 
strumental in changing the opinions of many Buffalo people. 



2 An accompanying photo notes that those arrested in the free speech fight included Wil- 
liam Francis Barnard, Frank Cattell, Marie Gnoss, Samuel Leary, G. Lesch, Stephen J. 
Mahoney, Daniel A. Niel, Patrick O'Brien, Joseph Pelton, Mr. and Mrs. Max Sherover, and 
Caroline Welte. 



In 1916 we were again confronted by a machinists' strike but we 
loyally stuck to the machinists and aided them to get what they were 
after. 

Then came Billy Sunday — Billy Blatant, Billy the Chosen One, 
Billy the Apostle. What fun we had. They were the happy days. From 
December 1916 to February 1917 we were amused daily. We were 
called everything from a pink-eyed tortoise to a spineless jellyfish by 
Billy. But we are here, and where is Billy? We stuck. Billy drifted. 
Billy talks and then beats it to another city. We talk and stick to face 
the music. We make sure we are right and then go ahead. Billy knows 
he's wrong, that's why he runs away. 

How we fought against conscription is known to all. But it 
availed us nothing. The old men of America wanted to see how well 
their sons could fight, so June 5th, 1917, called them to the colors. 
Many of them left, never to return. Many fathers who were proud of 
their loyal sons are now mourning for sons who will never help them 
again. Fighting by proxy does not pay. 

The year of 1917 was a busy one. With the revolution in Russia, 
the Franklin P. Brill campaign in Buffalo, and Hattie Krueger, Social- 
ist and suffrage worker, languishing in a cell in Washington, we had 
news for our readers every week. In 1918 came the coal shortage that 
had been predicted by The New Age. At that time Franklin P. Brill was 
editor of the paper and pointed out time after time that there was no 
real shortage but that coal was being gambled in so that the rich 
might grow warmer and richer and the poor might get colder and 
poorer. 

It was at this time that we purchased a complete printing plant 
and under the able management of Charles Wilhelm have since been 
able to maintain a more independent position. 

Our Greatest Battle. 

Then came the days of oppression. Brill and Milliken were edit- 
ing The New Age. Our second-class mail privileges were withdrawn. 
Brill made a trip to Washington to protest but to no avail. The 
authorities had decided to crush us. They were firm in this decision, 
but they did not succeed. Instead of crushing us they only made us 
stick together more strongly than ever. Debs was arrested and sen- 
tenced to prison for 10 years and Kate Richards O'Hare went down 
for 5 years. The New Age took up the fight and was among those who 



succeeded in finally securing the release of our beloved Gene and 
Kate. 

Another street car strike occurred in 1918 and again The New Age 
was on the job backing up the men in their demands and keeping 
Buffalo citizens informed of he truth of the situation. The kept press 
of Buffalo was filling the people with lies. The New Age alone fought 
the battles of the workers and kept Buffalo alive and awake to the real 
truth in the matter. 

March 1919 brought unemployment and misery to many. Thou- 
sands were out of work and it was Martin B. Heisler, then organizer 
of the local Socialist Party, who organized an unemployed parade and 
marched to the City Hall demanding a hearing. Heisler was later ar- 
rested on trumped up charges and sentenced to a year in jail. Local 
attorneys who were prominent defended Heisler and had the case set 
aside. This year gave us our first sight of sawed-off shotguns. Buffalo 
police were getting ready for real murder. They couldn't shoot enough 
unemployed with revolvers so they were given sawed-off shotguns. 
Chief Higgins and his Sawed-off Squad were on the job. This was the 
beginning of days of fun. The city-owned halls were then denied us. 
Time after time when we could have brought a first-class speaker of 
national repute to this city we were unable to get any of the large halls 
owned by the city of Buffalo. Buffalo officials wee firm. They had re- 
ceived orders from the Chamber of Commerce and they must abide 
by such order. Those who elected them, financially, must be served — 
and they were. 

Following after this action came the ban on street meetings. The 
mayor was sorry but he could not give us the street corners for our 
meetings. Spineless Buck hemmed and hawed but was firm in his de- 
cision that a bunch of "disloyal persons" like the Socialists could not 
use the streets for meetings. The New Age took up the fight. "Six 
Thousand Dollars for Free Speech and a Free Press" was our slogan 
and we went out after money with which to fight the grafters of our 
Buffalo Steal Plant. 

Then came dissension within our ranks. The Lefts insisted on 
splitting the party so we split. The New Age remained loyal to the or- 
ganization. The New Age remained true to the principles upon which 
it was founded and stood by the party that had made its life possible 
and its years of victories a fact. The outcome can be seen. The Lefts 
have agains split into a dozen different factions. 



We were able, at this time, to secure the services of Robert Steiner 
as editor of our paper. Steiner is known and loved by all. As a writer 
of Socialist philosophy he was unequalled. He gave his services to our 
paper and for some time was able to remain with us as editor. 

Through the hard days of reorganization The New Age remained 
loyal and in the campaign of 1919 was successful in electing to the 
City Council an alleged Socialist by the name of Frank C. Perkins. It 
was at this time that John H. Gibbons was elected Socialist Mayor of 
the city of Lackawanna against the combined efforts of both parties, 
who were backed by the Steel Trust. 

In February 1920 Frank C. Perkins betrayed the Socialists and 
openly denounced them. In spite of all that had been done by the 
local organization and The New Age to give him publicity in what we 
believed to be his sincere efforts to help the people, he decided against 
us and for the Chamber of Commerce. What made Perkins decide 
against the workers has never been made public but it is well known 
in local political circles. 

It was The New Age that pointed out the graft in the Park De- 
partment in Buffalo. Year after year we have been fighting organized 
graft of all kinds and you have but to look through the back issues of 
our papers to find evidence that we have always maintained that Buf- 
falo was suffering from a bunch of grafters who were bleeding the city 
to death. 

Victory. 

And now we are celebrating our victory. 

Ten years is a long time, but to us who have fought it seems but a 
day. We have kept at it day after day. Our only reward is the joy we 
get out of doing what we know to be right. 

Among those who have been keeping their shoulders to the wheel 
and helping keep The New Age going by loyal, sincere efforts are: Ida 
Francis King, Maud Keddy, E.O. Baum, Harvey Davidson, Charles 
S. Leary Sam Leary, John J. Maier, B. Pumplieu, H. Booth, J.N. 
Kohler, Fred Becker, Adam Schembs, Louis F. Rexin, R. Reid, A.C. 
Voss, Jacob Wasser, Maurice Winegard, C. Kreuger, John Zabadeck, 
G. Staebler, the Yokoms, Kohlers, Kolkman, Heisler, Wilhelm, Weiss, 
Reynolds, Zella, Ball, Kelly, O'Brien, and our former comrads who 
have since passed away, Tom Keddy, Bert Maxim, Mahoney 



Such locals as Rochester, Jamestown, Dunkirk, Lockport, Syra- 
cuse, Niagara Falls, Tonawanda, and all the branches of Buffalo were 
constantly supporting The New Age and its forerunner, the Buffalo 
Socialist. 

For several weeks James Battistroni, a veteran in the Socialist 
movement, voluntarily edited The New Age. To him it was a labor of 
love and all appreciated the sacrifice of time and money he made un- 
til the board was able to secure the full-time services of Patrick Quin- 
lan, the present editor. Because of his unique experience in the 
movement at home and abroad, Quinlan has proved himself an excel- 
lent editor, understanding fully the industrial and political situation 
from the viewpoint of the worker. The fact that daily and weekly 
newspapers all over the country are clipping articles appearing in The 
New Age is proof that our editorship is in good hands. 

The business management of the paper is under the direction of 
Martin B. Heisler, who has shown by his untiring efforts the results 
that can be obtained by a sincere belief in the ideals for which we 
stand. A glance through the pages of any issue of The New Age will 
testify to the ability of our present business manager. 

And now we have achieved success. We have built up a circulation 
of which we are proud. We are recognized as the best made-up Social- 
ist weekly in America. We have grown slowly but surely. The fight is 
still on. The battles before us will be just as hard as those through 
which we have passed. We will keep up the fight. Our day is coming 
and until it comes we will keep up our work of editing a paper that is 
published in the interests of the working class, first, last, and all the 
time. 



Edited with footnotes by Tim Davenport 

1000 Flowers Publishing, Corvallis, OR • February 2012 • Non-commercial reproduction permitted. 



8